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Time for an attitude adjustment

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As a fellow Unitarian Universalist, I am puzzled and dismayed by Chris Wallace’s shortsighted and selfish attitude toward paying fees to use nearby U.S. Forest Service lands (HCN, 11/27/06). It seems to me that the no-fee movement is akin to the property-rights movement, as in "I own this land and I can do with it whatever I want, including trashing it for other users and future generations."

Sure, we’re all owners by virtue of the income taxes we pay to the federal government. But we all also "own" the national parks, too, and we pay to get into them. Where I live, I also pay to visit state and county parks, in addition to paying my state and local taxes. The only lands I don’t pay extra to use are city and county open spaces, which both have dedicated funding sources.

Living as close as I do to so many wonderful public lands, I feel I have a special obligation to contribute an extra amount because I use them so much. Don’t think of it as paying the Forest Service. Think of it as doing right by all the other "owners" of this land — as well as future generations — by doing your part to keep the area open to the public and in good condition. Think of it as showing respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we’re all a part.

Linda Knowlton
Fort Collins, Colorado

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